REVIEW – April 2004

The role of alcohol and narcotics in injury mortality, and consequent economic and social costs to Estonian society


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Purpose: To study role of alcohol and narcotics in injury mortality among Estonian population under 65 years of age, and to calculate lost lives and working years, and the economic loss of the output due to premature deaths.
Method: The data were gathered from the autopsy protocols of the Departments of the Bureau of Forensic Medicine of Estonia. The causes, types, and circumstances of injury death, sex,  age, alcohol concentration and content of narcotics in the blood of the subjects were registered. A period of three years, 2000 –2002 were under observation. The life tables of the Statistical Office of Estonia were used for the calculation of lost lives and working years. Economic loss was calculated by human capital method.
Results: Alcohol was conducive for more than a half of the fatal injuries. The role of alcohol was the highest in drowning, CO intoxications, traffic injuries, asphyxia due to aspiration of stomach content or alien body, and hypothermia. There were more intoxicated persons among homicide victims than among suicides. The influence of illegal narcotics on injury mortality, and on loss of life and working years has grown twofold during the three years studied. The economic loss of the output due to lost life years of all fatally injured persons were equal to 1.73% of GDP in 2002. Conclusion: Alcohol was the main proximate factor of fatal injuries in the study period, causing high economic loss to society. Increasing involvement of narcotics in fatal injuries deserves attention.